Leprous: Coal

Progressive metallers step out of their mentor’s shadow

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Many of us will know of Leprous through their association with Ihsahn, who recruited them as the live band for his solo ventures. But there’s a lot more to these Norwegians and third album Coal could very well see them get recognition as a band in their own right.

Opener Foe is wholeheartedly ambitious, and sets the tone for the next hour with its brooding tapestry of staccato chords, militaristic snares and soaring choruses, culminating in a harmonised vocal a cappella that sounds almost as if it’s coming out of a synth. The Cloak and The Valley are equally as daring, with more than a hint of Justin Hawkins to frontman Einar Solberg’s falsetto. His vocal gymnastics sound more refined than on 2011’s Bilateral, which intimated at the progressive brilliance perfected this time round.

Thanks to production wizardry from mentor Ihsahn and mixer Jens Bogren, Coal sounds just as rich and expansive as the music deserves. Further proof that forward-thinking, technical metal is in a rude state of health.

Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences. He's interviewed everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handling lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).